Michael Kidron

C&A Marx

(Summer 1965)

From International Socialism (1st series), No. 21, Summer 1965, p. 29.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Karl Marx and the British Labour Movement: Years of the First International
Henry Collins and Chimen Abramsky
London: Macmillan; New York: St. Martin’s Press, 42s.

This end of International Socialism is dour and unkind territory for most authors; but not for Collins and Abramsky. They have written a standard text for anyone grappling with the problems that concern this magazine most; and done so with an intensity of interest and with an authority which make light of the 300-odd pages.

Four Internationals later and with canvassing for a fifth erupting at increasingly close intervals, it is valuable to have plainly set out the uniqueness of the events which translated aspirations into a practical and, however sporadically, a viable international organisation. It is even more valuable to have traced in fine detail the way in which Man’s theoretical system jelled from contact with the reality it both interpreted and wrought. Most valuable of all, for an age in which ‘conditions’ are too often invoked to cloak conformity, is the practical demonstration of the immense power of ideas to coordinate action; of the creative value of those twin devils in the revolutionary socialists’ calendar – voluntarism and substitutionism.

One could go on and on, demonstrating by example that Collins and Abramsky have done as much to provoke thought as they have done to advance knowledge. But no creative purpose would be served by substitution in this instance. The authors need to be read in full.

Last updated on 18 February 2017